If you have seen The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind you know where director Michel Gondry’s head is at. He can at times be bizarre and has a distinctive visual look for his films. His latest project is a YouTube advertisement for Burger King staring Mason Ramsey (the 11-year-old yodeler) whos video of him yodeling in a Walmart went viral.
The video called “Cows Menu” is promoting the fast-food chains Reduced Methane Whopper, which I have absolutely no idea as to what that is. Ramsey leads a sing a long musical number about reducing methane emissions in a live-action, stop motion, multi-layer transforming set that features all sorts of colorful props and backdrops.
You have cows farting cotton ball clouds, bedazzled gas masks, lemongrass hats, and our hero – Ramsey – dressed in white the way all goodguys should be. It is quite the experiece.
The campaign was produced by We Believers in conjunction with Partizan and focuses on Burger King’s latest initiative to combat greenhouse gasses. The tag line at the end of the spot reads “Since we are part of the problem, we are working to be part of the solution,” addressing the fact that farm livestock accounts for 15 percent of global greenhouse emissions. The lyrics in the song explain further, that the Reduced Methane Whopper has been developed by feeding the cows a new diet including lemongrass, which means their cows excrete 33 percent less methane.
It’s a fun spot and actually engages, or at least it did for me. I watched the entire thing. Twice. It does make you pay attention, which is the formula for a successful ad. Now lets see how many people click through to learn more, and how many people buy a Reduced Methane Whopper.
Evermind is a science based approach to wellbeing for iOS and Android devices. It looks at things like stress and sleep deprivation and how they impact your mental health and physical wellbeing.
Usually when a company is promoting something like what Evermind provides they turn to typical visual strategies where you show a stressed out individual and the factors that got them to that point. Evermind took a different approach.
Teaming up with Device they created a storyline that uses abstract visuals and animation, paired with a calm voice over and some subtle sound design. The result is really, really well done, and very engaging. Both videos below held my attention and left me intrigued and wondering more about Evermind – which is exactly what they were supposed to do.
Acting as the main character in the story, the white sphere introduces us to the main causes of stress in working environments. Performing as the individual in society, our protagonist explains us the app’s main goal: overcoming stress by managing the factors which usually provoke it, the “stressors” (read: tight deadlines, excessive self-demand, traffic jams…). Travelling around a highly abstract universe, the white ball progressively collides with the “stressors”, identified with an anguishing curved-texture, the ones which block our protagonist’s movement and harm its inner balance. Depicting only synthetic shapes along with a colourful and warm graphic style, the story aims to symbolically convey the benefits that some specific stress-tackling techniques can bring to increase the individuals’ wellbeing.
The advertising and marketing industry has been stood on its head in the last month thanks to the Covid 19 pandemic. The economic situation is unpredictable, and the timeline for normalcy seems to be weeks if not months away. The changes that advertising and marketing are experiencing now are manifesting themselves in some very specific ways.
Because so many cities and states are sheltering in place or have limited exposure rules, there is very little incentive to advertise at all. What is the point of doing a media buy if your target audience is missing during the local commute drive time? Why buy outdoor if the volume of traffic on freeways and local roads has been reduced by two thirds? If the audience isn’t there, the reason to advertise vaporizes.
Yes, people are watching TV, either trying to escape the nonstop news about the pandemic or get more information about it. The problem is, a large portion of popular content is gone. Every major sporting event in the United States has been canceled or delayed. The Olympics are on hold. Live event shows have been postponed, and all of these will remain in limbo until things have settled down and returned to normal.
Typically when a crisis forces people to stay home media consumption skyrockets. The Nelson group has found that it doesn’t matter what the source is consumption goes up, whether it’s live TV, streaming, internet, mobile gaming other channels. And while the news is attracting a larger audience base these days, most advertisers don’t want to position their product or service in relationship to the news on the Cover 19 pandemic.
So, Who is Advertising Changing?
The hospitality and entertainment industries for sure. Retail as well. These venues in many cases simply can not open their doors to the public. And those that continue to advertise are now being extremely sensitive with their messaging. You don’t want to come off as though you don’t care or understand the nature of this crisis. Pitching a product or service against the backdrop of a global pandemic could have long-lasting ramifications for your brand.
And What is Being Advertised?
Covid 19 has disrupted more than our socializing and work habits. It has made it more difficult to ship and receive goods. The global supply chain for many products has been ground to a halt or slowed significantly. Look at what Amazon is doing. They have refocused on high demand items, and restructure shipping priorities to hone in on medical supplies and household staples while slowing the shipment of nonessential goods. If an economic downturn settles in over the next few months, we might begin to see a shift in consumer demand and what brands decide to promote as well.
With he world in such an unsettled state at the moment, how can marketers and advertisers make effective marketing strategies and move forward?
What Does the Data Tell Us?
With the ground shifting on a day to day basis it’s easy to look past the data and simply react to the need at hand. “How quickly can we get this?” “We need X right now.” Being reactionary at this point in time is going to yield fewer gains than looking at your data and building a strategy based on it. Especially data that is updated daily and analyzed. Looking at end-of-week or end-of-month analytics will be too little to late. That historical information might mean very little in rapidly changing circumstances.
Update Your Approach
So much of what we do and know has changed in the last month or so. Your team’s focus has probably changed, as well as how they are producing and executing. Content and messaging have shifted as well. Media buy is probably focusing on different channels in an attempt to have the greatest impact from your spend. This is where your data becomes mission-critical. Why? because it can show you if you are being effective or if you are failing. Even the best creative will fall short if it isn’t delivered in a channel that reaches the right audience with the best impact. Using tools like Twitter Enterprise can help you understand how your brand is being perceived, how your product or service is being angered with during all of this.
During periods of uncertainty, it’s imperative that your team pays attention, asks questions, and listens closely to what your target audience is saying in order to be responsive, and present relevant and engaging content.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball.
In times of crisis, it’s easy to get distracted and become more reactionary to the situation. Remember the phrase “Cooler heads will prevail”? There is so much truth in that statement. It’s easy to get caught up on everything that is happening in the world these days. Keeping a level head and your eye on the ball is a really good approach to the situation. Concentrate on the things you can control. Be that reassuring.
It all comes down to this, if you are in the business of advertising or marketing, pay attention to your data and analytics and use that information to provide relevant contentment and messaging to your target audiences. You should be doing that anyway, but now more than ever. The Covid 19 pandemic is altering the way we do business and will continue to do so long after we get the “all clear” message. This has the potential to reshape the marketing and advertising industry for an extended period of time if not permanently.
Think about this. Most of us are working from home. How many businesses are going to see this as a chance to reduce overhead and allow people to continue to work from home after the pandemic ends? (refer to paragraph two and think about the impact over a longer period of time)
Holidays have always been a reason for marketing teams to mashup branding or advertising elements in an attempt to capitalize on a specific holiday’s panache or excitement. More often than not the success of these campaigns tends to fall short. Usually the campaign is a half-baked idea, or an afterthought with the results being poorly executed and delivered, resulting in nothing more than a mention in one of the advertising trade publications or blogs.
This year there were three campaigns that I ran across for Valentine’s day that range from bad (Pepsi) to possibly good (KFC) – depending on the long-term execution of the latter. So, let’s take a look at these and see what cupid brought us in 2020 for Valentine’s Day marketing mashups.
I’ll start with the bad. Pepsi somehow thought it would be a good idea to create an engagement ring to promote Crystal Pepsi. A ring made from something like cubic zirconia housed in a cheap cardboard box emblazoned with the Pepsi logo. Why? Because nothing says “I Love You” like a cheap ring in a logo box.
The engagement ring features a lab-grown, clear-cola-containing 1.5-carat diamond set into a platinum band (this might actually have value if you melt it down). Real Crystal Pepsi was broken down into elemental carbon and then added into the artificial growing process to create this exceptional stone. (color, cut and clarity are outstanding I’m sure) The resulting bling sits inside a white ring box featuring the retro-chic Crystal Pepsi logo.
The ring is only available through a social media contest where entrants share their proposal plans using the requisite mentions and hashtags on Twitter. One lucky proposer will win the one-of-kind Pepsi engagement ring, freeing up a year’s worth of someone’s salary to buy a replacement ring with an actual diamond in it.
Pepsi worked with creative agency VaynerMedia to create the Pepsi Proposal campaign, which runs until March 6th, with the winner announced March 16th.
Another outstanding mashup is the Heinz Ketchup chocolate box. Yes you read that right chocolate truffles filled with tasty, tasty ketchup. Why? Because nothing says “I Love You” like nausea inducing confections packaged in a heart shaped box.
Heinz UK partnered with confectionary wizards Fortnum & Mason for Valentine’s Day creating a red and cyan box with gold foil, which actually looks really nice and matches the Fortnum & Mason brand quite well. From a packaging standpoint I really like this. I question the novelty of the execution though. In my opinion this will be read as a joke, and while it might appeal to some, most are simply going to say “gross” and forget about it. I’m not sure how this will elevate the Heinz or Fortnum & Mason brands long term.
This isn’t the first time Heinz has tried to ruin the magic of a romantic Valentine’s Day Last year they released ketchup caviar, a move in what now seems like the first attempt to forever tarnish this holiday and, likely, your marriage. (Someone at Heinz apparently isn’t loved)
Now for the one that might actually work. KFC Crocs. Yes, the shoe everyone loves to hate has been done up to look like a bucket of the colonel’s finest. This one might actually work. The love connection is a bit obtuse, with KFC joining forces with avant-garde artist Me Love Me A lot (MLMA), who often showcases her eccentric and provocative art on Instagram, where she has over 1.2 million followers.
MLMA introduced a platform version of the shoe where the sole becomes the chicken bucket and the toe is adorned with a little drumette at New York Fashion Week in order to generate buzz and give KFC a platform to announce that a more subdued version of the shoe will actually go on sale next month which means this might have some staying power.
I actually like this because while there is novelty to the campaign, there is an actual practical use for the shoe, and some people are going to be all in on the fact that their ugly crocs are a bucket of chicken. Time will tell through sales though and I predict that these will end up being a collector’s item featured on American Pickers in 10 years.